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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Dean Reese Heerwagen
ARCH 531
Seattle Campus

Active Control Systems for Building Operation

Electrical, mechanical (HVAC), plumbing, and fire safety systems for buildings. Descriptions of what these systems do, where they are used, how they are integrated into the overall building design; rules of thumb, design strategies, and short cuts for anticipating system design and use. Prerequisite: either ARCH 331 or ARCH 431.

Class description

This course will describe common HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and human conveyance systems that are used for actively servicing the internal environments of buildings. Issues and design practices concerning fire prevention and safety systems will be discussed. And attention will be given to the use of some passive control devices (as they may complement these active systems). The focus of the course will be to offer descriptive information about (i) what these systems do, (ii) how they operate, (iii) what their primary components are, (iv) where these components are placed in buildings, (v) how large the components are, (vi) how large the spaces used to house the components need to be, and (vii) how the components and spaces may be integrated into the overall building design. Where appropriate, rules-of-thumb, design strategies, and other planning short-cuts will be suggested for their subsequent application in the architectural design process. The course is fundamentally a descriptive one. Further, the material will mostly be presented without reliance on the quantitative analysis/synthesis techniques commonly used by design professionals -- most often, engineers -- who work in the fields addressed in this class. My intent in offering the class is to provide information that should be useful for accommodating these systems (or, at least, spaces for these systems) in your preliminary schematic design solutions.

Student learning goals

Gain information about the five major active systems used for controlling building interiors (e.g., about the functions, operations, and components of these systems and the locating and sizing of the spaces used for housing the systems)

Have insights (and design guidelines and approximations) about accommodating (integrating) spaces for housing these systems in buildings

Learn the terminology used by systems (hardware) designers and gain insights about the systems designers' goals and rationales

Consider the benefits that these systems provide for building occupants

General method of instruction

Field trips to view systems spaces and hardware, lectures about the systems, readings to complement the lectures, and the required completion of two design problems

Recommended preparation

Completion of a previous course on environmental control principles (including, at least, discussions about weather and climate around buildings, occupant comfort needs, thermal energy consumption principles for operating buildings, the daylighting of buildings, and, preferably, sound and noise control in buildings)

Class assignments and grading

Two problems whose completion are required: first, a small-group problem devoted to bringing the envelope from a previous design studio (Arch 500) into compliance with the Seattle Energy Code; and, second, a problem completed individually devoted to integrating spaces suitable for housing HVAC and electrical systems in the building design from a previous quarter (also, Arch 500)

The evaluations of the solutions from these two problems, for each students, are averaged to arrive at a course grade. Written evaluations are also furnished to each student.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Dean Reese Heerwagen
Date: 01/10/2014